Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the media post-match, after having seen his side grab a dramatic last minute winner in the Reds last away fixture of 2016, at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The game was full of drama, however, unlike Tuesday night, the final result proved to be the perfect Christmas present for the travelling Barnsley faithful.
“The game really had a bit of everything! When the scores were levelled at 3-3, you thought it wasn’t going to be our day, Rickie Lambert had a chance moments before we scored, which fortunately went wide of the goal. However, the character of our boys and the ‘never say die’ attitude is something that we demand. We were very positive with our substitutions and it’s the two fresh legs that won us the game."
With the spectacle that unfolded throughout the 90 minutes, you would be forgiven for forgetting that the hosts took the lead within five minutes. Despite conceding early on, the Reds Head Coach commended his side on their rearguard action throughout.
“The first half was strange. We knew that Cardiff were all about their set-plays, especially as they accounted for 75% of their goals and we gave them too many in the first 45 minutes. We got caught in the first few moments and we didn’t compete well enough. Despite conceding two goals in the second half, I thought we were better defensively, because they threw everything at us to get back into the game. When Cardiff scored their third goal, they had eight bodies in the box and it was crucial to be putting our bodies on the line to win both the first and second ball. It’s the spirit of the lads that has won us the game”.
Whilst Hecky was proud of the bravery his team showed defensively, he was delighted with the manner in which the Reds capitalised on their chances and scored the four goals.
“We try and win games every single way, whether it’s via set plays, counter attacks or controlling the ball. In some games we’ve been guilty of just counter attacking and giving the ball away cheaply, but today the first goal was from some real controlled possession, a good ball and a great finish from Sam Winnall. Then we finish the half with two good goals on the counter, something we’re delighted with as we constantly work on it. But ultimately, it’s the determination and mentality of the lads that has won us the game."
Whilst Barnsley were good value for their half-time lead, the Reds didn’t have the second half all their own way. However the winning goal sent everyone of a Barnsley persuasion into hysteria!
”They got two and we thought it wasn’t going to be our day, but low and behold, we had men at the back post and Ryan Williams was there to tap it in. We showed our quality with the goals and I’m delighted to come away with the three points."
Hecky saved special praise for Ryan Williams, who has come through a tough spell having being plagued by injury, to be brought on in the dying moments to slot home the decisive goal.
“It’s great for him. Having spoken to Ryan earlier, he’s put it out of his mind and he’s not thinking about it anymore. That’s testament to how hard he’s worked, both mentally and physically. I’m over the moon that it was he who grabbed the winner and that reflected in the way the lads celebrated with him afterwards."
With the festive period upon us, Hecky is satisfied with the progress that his side has made in the Championship, but still hopes for more from the second half of the season.
“We’re really pleased with where we are and how we’re playing, the fact that we can score lots of goals, we’re winning games in different ways. But, we want to do better and we want to do more. Games like this just give us belief that we can achieve more. We’re not getting carried away, but we know that when we play like we should, we’re a tough team to play against. We’ll keep working hard, get more decisions right than wrong, keep our standards high and see where we end up."
2016 is a year that Barnsley fans will never forget. Hecky reiterated that statement, before expressing how proud he is of his team and the way that the fans have continued to support the Club.
“It’s been a remarkable year. One thing we have got at the minute is a real togetherness. Everyone is giving their best for the Club, from the owner to the fans. We have to enjoy the good moments and keep sticking together through the bad. I hope we get a real good turnout on Boxing Day at Oakwell, as we normally do."
Watch Paul Heckingbottom’s press conference in full on Barnsley Player HD
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